Speedway, Ind. ~ The American Rally Association crisscrosses the United States with eight national events, dubbed the Green APU National Rally Championship. It also encompasses three regional championships, including 12 Super Regionals (8 of which are held in conjunction with the national events) and nine regionals.
One of those upcoming events is the Headwaters Rally in LaPorte, Minn. Registration for the Central Regional Championship event opened in late March and will begin today’s action with 15 competitors. Here's an ARA: First Look at Headwaters and who's coming to Northern Minnesota.
For nearly two decades, Headwaters was a mainstay in the rally world. It's operated by the same group that organizes the Ojibwe Forest Rally each year, and the event is a staple for the Minnesota rally community.
Over the past few years, weather and Covid-19 have played havoc on the continuity of the event. Wet springs or snow canceled Headwaters in 2022 and 2018. Then, the pandemic sidelined the event in 2020 and 2021.
Those who follow the Ojibwe Forest Rally will see familiarity with the roads and style of the rally. Headwaters stages are gravel with a sandy base. They are tighter forest roads lined tightly by trees. It's spring day means cooler weather and moisture. Roads can be easily rutted, with rain or snow possible on the day of the rally.
But the rally is fun and challenging for competitors, of which there are currently 20 cars on the entry list. With its far northern location, it will have a heavy Minnesota influence in the driver's seats.
Minnesota's own Mark Williams (and co-driver Steven Harrell) won the last Headwaters Rally held in 2019. The 2021 ARA East Regional L4WD champion also won the Ojibwe Forest Regional Rally in 2018. Williams will be joined in the car by co-driver Tim Kohlmann this season.
Another Minnesotan, Steve Gingras (co-driver Lynn Wolf), has been a frequent visitor to the Headwaters podium over the years, winning the SCCA-backed event in 1996, 1997, and 2003. Gingras was quick at 100 Acre Wood last month before a transmission issue ended his weekend. He won December's Nemadji Trail Rally and also Ojibwe's regional class in 2020.
Scott Putnam (Derrik Cole) (also from the land of 10,000 lakes) is fresh off an overall podium (third) at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood Regional in March. He finished second in class in Missouri as well. He has succeeded at Headwaters as a co-driver for Lauchlin O'Sullivan as they teamed up to win in 2006.
Levi Johnson (Duluth, Minn.) picked up his first career class in Missouri last month. He won the O2WD regional class at 100 Acre Wood in just his third career start. Matthew Nykanen will sit in the navigator seat for Johnson at Headwaters.
A Wisconsin resident will look to stir up a border battle at Headwaters. 2022 ARA Central Regional NA4WD champion Tyler Matalas won his class at Headwaters and finished third overall in 2019. He has yet to finish outside the top three in his class at his six rallies. 2022 Central Regional NA4WD C0-Driver champion Dustin Sharkozy will partner with Matalas this weekend.